What do you notice about these students? Their smiles? The light in their eyes? Their youthful energy? Yep, that’s what I notice every day that I am with them in Rwanda! They have drive and have not let any of the challenges in their lives prevent them from moving forward with passion and excellence. They are ready to change the world and I absolutely believe that they will accomplish what they set out to do.
What you cannot see is that every student in this photo–except one–is a refugee. Many of these young adults have been displaced from their homes, living in tiny huts without electricity, sufficient water, food and sanitation for over 17th years. Yet, rather than being thwarted by those facts, they focused on finding ways to thrive! They found a way to get an education. They supported one another. They applied to universities without any hope of the funds needed to attend.
Thanks to These Numbers Have Faces, these students are not simply defined as “refugees” but are university students, leaders and changemakers. This past year, I have been repeatedly blown away by these young people and it has been a true joy to be part of their journey, get to know their families and their communities.
TODAY IS WORLD REFUGEE DAY! So I just had to pause for a moment and admire the resilience, courage and grit that I see in the refugee families that I have come to love this year. Having Jean Paul and his family–Congolese refugees–get resettled in Portland last month only further deepens my respect for families that have maintained a sense of unity, optimism and joy amidst all of the instability. It is hard work to rebuild your life over and over–and yet, they continue to move forward with a grace that is amazing.
If you want to be inspired, shoot me a message and let me share more about these incredibly students and how you can become part of their stories.